“The Vivid Now” by Nicole Beck

Today, Lise Quintana and Kevin Sharp explore The Vivid Now by Nicole Beck, submitted to Zoetic Press for the Viable chapbook series.

Borges and Gass1
The soul’s a groping intensity
no, we can do better, the soul
is a weed stuffed in the crack
of a wall, kept alive by the drool
of a tiger, pure fantasy.
A mixed sleep of men harboring
ambiguous intentions
who nonetheless know little
to nothing admissible
of madness
of women.

1 Lines from Jorge Luis Borges and William M. Gass, respectively.

If You Yell At Doctor
No walks
out, eat alone. Ask to use the bathroom.
Lose your clothes or get sent to

empty. Noon, feign
indifference. Evening,
restless sloth. Night, sound crack blood iron

Now What
Good girls
don’t need to be
on suicide watch, yeah
yeah. No one can guess when death rests
its tongue

(when will I
be let out?)

The ward plays avant-garde symphony
Its audience chatters in swishing scrubs.
Triangle dings of telephone stridency
Deep bass thrum of strained air conditioning
Tambourine click of lanyards by the staff hub

For the solo
a scream
Take everything
Away with all that is!
The bed, the rooms, this crowd, all
must go.

In the Forest
Small fires will be lit in every corner
I’ll strip my bones for any scrap of self.
In this immolated world
Fire, fire, burning bright—
that’s not the line–
I stumble into Borges’ tiger
prowling these alien woods
Here it’s thick like Blake’s night
we can barely feel each other’s outlines
fang for fang
I’ll feed those jaws
myself as kindling.

Already I’ve found the will
to break rhythm and beat rhyme
and slap the ends
of forest twigs like restraints
snapped on wrists and legs
and steal the tiger’s stripes
from his fiery back
his ink black enough to write
almost anywhere
my words are escaping
words are small fires.